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Library: combat

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Author: Ran
Date:Jun 26 1997

This is a very complex field, and writing a complete book about this is
virtually imposible.  I will at least try to outline the fundementals.  In the
past, I've had some troubles translating the technical terms into English, but
I do my best.

First, understand how systems work.  Power generated by the Engine and other
auxilary power generation systems is stored electrically in the "loop" or
"pool".  The pilot allocates power to different systems, using the controls. 
The "coupling" feeds the other systems power, as the pilot requests.  One of
the important things to do in combat is to make adjustments to power
distribution.  

Typically, a "meter" or "display" is used to monitor the avaliable power.  The
meter has a red bar that fills the background, and a red and blue bar in front
of the bar.  The red bar rises as power input rises, the blue as power use
rises, and the red bar as the amount of extra power stored in the pool rises. 
So if the red bar is above the blue bar, the background red bar rises,
otherwise it falls.  

Certain systems, such as weaponry, are coupled directly to the pool.
These systems draw power quickly for a short time.  When this happens, the red
background bar on the power meter will drop.  If the red bar hits the bottom
of the display, these systems will not function, and there may also be a power
outage. If this happen, systems which don't have their own built-in backup may
stop functioning.  Vital systems such as lighting or sensors typically have a
built-in backup that functions for a minute or so before needing to be
recharged.

Next, understand manuevering.  On the typical pilot's control panel, there are
two "joysticks" and one "lever".  The lever is the main drive power.  As you
push it up further, you will increase forward acceleration, and as you pull it
back, your forward acceleration will decrease.  The two joysticks are
typically linked to "maneuvering" thrusters, but they may simply control a
"vectoring system" for the main drive, or both.  Put the stick in the position
you want the thruster to fire in, and press the button on the front of the
stick.  The harder you press the button, the more "force" that thruster will
propell you with. For instance,  For instance, placing both sticks in the "up"
position and pressing both buttons will start to pitch up, pulling both sticks
down (opposite position) and pressing each button will stop the pitching up. 
I think this is the reverse of an aeroplane here.

For instance, to do a "braking" maneuver, I first hold down the buttons on the
sticks as far as I can and pull down on them.  When the ship is pointing
straight down, push the sticks all the way up and it should stop turning when
it is pointed in reverse from where it started.  Push the lever up
to fire the main drive until the speed drops.

Typically, the lever on the right will spring back down if you let go of it. 
You can lock the lever on the right in its current position by pressing the
red button on the left of the lever.   q

Weapon fire is the next thing that is important to understand.  Typically,
weapon fire is done by a different person at the controls, called a "gunner". 
If a gunner is not avaliable, some ships have gun controls also on the
"pilot's panel".  But every ship is at least gauranteed to have an "automatic
fire system".  You invoke this system by pressing the red button between the
two control sticks.  The system decides which weaponry to fire by taking into
account range, relative speed, avaliable power, and other factors.  In some
ships, two foot petals are located at the pilot's station.  The right one is
the main drive thrust level described above, and the left one is the same as
the auto fire button.  This allows use of both the manuevering sticks as well
as the main drive and the weaponry at one time.

If a standard weapon's panel or standard gunner's panel is avaliable, this is
how it works.  Each weapon has a bar on the panel, which has a light display,
a number readout, and a lockable button.  The screen, and an associated
joystick is used for manual targeting.  Typically, the "ballistics computer"
or "weapon-targeting system" will choose the nearest craft to the center of
the screen as its target.  But there are many other factor taken into account,
such as "Friend-or-Foe identification" and such.  You can manually select
targets by moving the joystick around and pressing the button on the joystick.

The bars will light up depending on the effectiveness of that weapon,
depending on range, relative speed, and other variables.  When all ten bars
are lit, the weapon is basically gauranteed to hit the target.  The numerical
display represents the amount of ammo avaliable for that weapon (if
applicable).  Certain systems may regenerate their own ammo.  This readout is
not in english, you may wish to have a translation list for the numbers handy.
 Finally, to fire the weapon, release the button and press it.  Some weapon
fire continuosly (hold the button down), others fire instantaneously and can't
be refired for a while.  Others you will have to hold down the button for some
amount of time before they fire.  It depends on the type of weapon.   Other
displays placed in the bar for each weapon are specific to that weapon type.

The final main combat systems to understand are defensive systems.  Defensive
systems are probably the hardest to understand and manage.  Think of a defense
system simply as something that puts or keeps something between the vital
insides of your ship and an enemy ship firing a weapon.  Exactly how it does
this ranges from simple armor, or strong meteriel that coats the outer part of
the ship, to regenerative "matter grids", or a "cell/membrane[1] field". 
Regenerative or "field" systems are extremely complex and controlled by an
optimized computer systems.  Armor itself is a passive system, and requires no
control.

A "matter grid" forms a wall of solid matter or "stuff" between the body of
the ship and a certain portion of the outside.  A typical ship will have 6-8
grids, but the most common configuration is front-right, front-left,
rear-right, rear-left, top, and bottom.  The more power that is allocated to
the system by the pilot, the faster the grid will "fill" or regenerate.
Since the grid is diffuse, a concentrated weapon fire may break through a part
of it just as weapon fire breaks through armor.  These grids shouldn't be
considered too much different than armor, except that given time and power
they can recuperate.

A "cell/membrane field" is a powerful field which surrounds the ship totally. 
These are not spherical, but more of a highly contorted sphere drawn toward
elongated points on the front and rear of the ship.  The latest models have a
computer which focuses the power of the field at the specific point of
weapon-fire impact.  These systems will have a pool of their own that they
draw from as they try to neutralize the weapon fire.  They also draw power
from the main pool porportional to the amount of power in their own pool (this
is used for "sustanence").  In other words, just keeping the "membrane" shield
at 100% pool (full power) will draw a set amount of energy from the main pool.
 The only up-side of this is that sometimes the mere "sustainence" energy can
neutralize a weapons-fire hit completely, so that no energy is lost from the
device pool.

The interface to using these devices is simple.  At the pilot's station there
is a drawing of the ship, with lights and lines denoting the grids.  A
circular line around the whole ship denotes the membrane shield/field which is
the first line of defense against weapon fire.  There will be numeric or bar
displays to denote actual pools, and for grids, the lines will get thinner and
thinner at a certain point as the grid nears penetration, finally disappearing
and turning to a gap if the grid has been penetrated and needs to be
regenerated.  In some cases, you maybe be able to control which grid to
distribute power to, this is done using switches or levers to the side of the
screen.  The membrane sheild might be penetrated at any time with weapon-fire,
but the chance of penetration is lower when more power is stored in it's
individual pool.

History and Specific uses of ship-based weaponry is covered in another book. 
This book was written by Ran.


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